Monday, August 25, 2008

Cronkite J-School Enters 'Bar Room Brawl' With Medill, Columbia, Missouri

I recently read an interesting article about the kickoff for Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications [sic], which is apparently aiming for the "Top Five" j-schools in the country:

To journalists, the names are familiar: Medill, at Northwestern . . . Missouri . . . Columbia . . . Syracuse . . . Scripps, at Ohio University.

These schools and one or two others long have constituted the benchmarks for journalism education in the Unite States. Get accepted at one of these demanding institutions and you can count on a cutting-edge education in modern American journalism.

Now, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University seeks entry into the club. And its advocates are not shy about saying so.

Some interesting things come from this. First, Arizona Republic writer Doug MacEachern explicitly defines the Top 5 j-schools -- the top stratum, really -- as Columbia, Medill, Missouri, Scripps and Syracuse, in alphabetical order. (No word on where, if any, MacEachern went to school.)

Even more interesting is his willingness to draw differentiating lines between the programs:

For good reason, Columbia and Scripps are perceived as incubators of writing technique. Syracuse is a great "reporter's school." And Medill and Missouri are renowned for graduate programs that have produced many (if not most) of the nation's top news editors.

I'm not sure how accurate these are -- we'd probably have to convene a panel of experts to get to the truth, and some of these overlap -- but it's probably the first time that I've ever seen such distinction drawn in print. (...ironically.)

So, then, what will Cronkite be known for? It's not clear at this point. But as I mentioned before, we could use some j-school rankings to figure it all out. Or at least know that journalism can thrive in dusty Arizona.

P.S. - What happened to UC Berkeley j-school?

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